Baseball squad ready to play ball
The crack of the bat, the sound of the baseball hitting the mitt and the umpire yelling, “Play ball,” are sure signs spring is here.
As Todd Schmidtke begins his 27th year as head baseball coach of the Buccaneers, he is faced with replacing seven seniors who graduated from last year’s team. Among those were two all-conference caliber players in Joe Schavey and Bobby Lindsey.
Turnover is something all high school teams face. Last year’s squad compiled a 6-14 record with five of the losses being by three runs or less.
“We lost some good players off of last year’s team but we have a good mix of youth and veterans this year,” Schmidtke says. “We have good senior leadership.”
The Bucs have four seniors returning this year. They are joined by four juniors and 10 sophomores.
Senior Hunter Bleess begins the season as the Buc’s top pitcher. Last year he had a 3-3 record and a .367 ERA.
Fellow senior Karson Legred is a catcher and pitcher who had a .340 batting average last season.
Braden Barnett heads into his final high school season having experience at second base and the shortstop position.
Rounding out the seniors is Kyle Hagedorn. Hagedorn can play first base, pitch or take a spot in the outfield.
Schmidtke describes his seniors as being good leaders and hard workers.
The juniors on the team are Caelan Sanders, Koby Nagel, Luke Carr and Cooper Amundson. It is possible all four of the juniors could see some action on the mound.
Sanders also plays centerfield, Nagel can play shortstop or second base, Carr is an outfielder and Amundson can play first base as well as handle outfield duties.
Schmidtke says Sanders is very athletic with good speed and is an excellent outfielder. Nagel has good speed, is much stronger this year and is very versatile. He adds Carr is very coachable, a hard worker who is good on defense while Amundson is a great teammate who really likes baseball.
The 10 sophomores on the team are Gavin Storbeck, Anders Fering, Luke Mertens, Keagan O’Brien, Cole Warmka, Ryan Madetzke, Ian Cornelio, Jimmy Allis, Will Howard and Tyler Long.
Schmidtke notes Storbeck and O’Brien are good solid pitchers who can play other positions. Fering and Mertens are big, strong young kids who play on opposite sides of the diamond. Fering is a first baseman while Mertens plays third base. Both may also see action on the pitcher’s mound. Howard is a versatile player who can handle infield or outfield duties.
According to Schmidtke, Madetzke is a hard worker concentrating on the catcher position. Warmka is very competitive and has seen action in the outfield as well as catching. Allis plays first base, pitches and loves baseball. Cornelio and Long are outfielders who are good kids and are very coachable.
The first game of the season is scheduled to be played on April 2, at Maple River. The game starts at 4:30 p.m.
Two days later the team is set to have their home opener as they host Worthington on April 4, at 5:30 p.m. The team will take the home field again on April 6 when they host Martin County West in a 1 p.m. game.
The Big South Conference is divided into big schools and small schools for baseball. BEA is in the division with the big schools which consist of Worthington, New Ulm, St. Peter, Marshall, Fairmont and Waseca. The Bucs will play each of these teams twice.
Schmidtke expects Marshall, New Ulm and St. Peter to be the teams to beat in the conference.
When it comes to section play, he sees St. Peter, Waterville-Elysian, Belle Plaine and Kenyon-Wanamingo fighting for the top spots.
“We have some good athleticism and versatility on our team,” Schmidtke says. “The team chemistry is good and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish.”